Abigail Swanson, a senior political science major at St. Norbert College, says her experiences and education have led her to become a leader on campus – especially as an advocate for sexual assault survivors. Abby has been deeply involved in Greek life, campus organizations, and political initiatives. These experiences, plus the personal connections that only a small, private college can offer, have made Abby’s years at St. Norbert a transformative experience and opened her eyes to the world around her. But more important, she sees that a private, liberal arts education has enabled her to move beyond simply talking about changing the world to taking an active role in that change.
“Education is of critical importance for identifying systemic issues in society,” says Abby, who is on track to attend law school after graduation from St. Norbert. She explains that, while education is one of the most valuable things she has received, it comes with a cost. As a recipient of the Wisconsin Grant while attending St. Norbert, Abby confidently says that financial assistance from both St. Norbert and outside sources has been essential for her to attend one of the top 10 Catholic liberal arts colleges in the country. With that privilege comes responsibility, she emphasized.
“I never thought of myself as an advocate for anything. But now I understand how I can use my privilege to advocate for [survivors],” she explains. “To understand [disparity], I need to be in a situation to see and experience the challenges,” she says, highlighting that she grew up in the small town of Kiel, Wisconsin and wants to expand on her global mindset.
Abby hopes to secure a two-year Teach for America placement in a major city to increase her understanding and exposure to these systemic issues and ways to address them. She wants to combine this experience with her law degree to be a better, stronger force of change as a civil litigator for sexual violence victims.
Abby feels that education is the way to make a significant difference in the lives of others. While friends and family may feel that teaching children in what some might call at-risk neighborhoods should make her nervous, she feels confident that it’s necessary for her. By teaching there and getting first-hand experience with underserved children, she will be better prepared to enter law school and to start using her education to advocate for them. The Wisconsin Grant and a liberal arts education have inspired Abby to push the boundaries of her worldview and help others in the human family.